With valentines not that far away, I thought I would do something a bit different, recipe wise. Usually at special times in the year, I tend to stick to traditional bakes, such as christmas cupcakes. Valentines to me is a little bit different as I find it much more relaxed, and often very overrated. Instead of trying to organise a posh fancy meal in an over priced restaurant, I would always choose to stay at home and cook something special. My boyfriend and I both enjoy cooking, and eating, so this for us is perfect. It is also an option that I have heard many other of my friends have not even thought of, but actually loved the idea when I mentioned it! I decided to come up with a three course meal plan, all homemade, that contains a lot of our favourite foods. Not only is this a hell of a lot cheaper, but it is something a lot more special, as you can cook together and enjoy real couple quality time which really is what the day should be about. 

Smoked Salmon Starter
I don’t know if anyone has seen them before, but in Tesco and Sainsbury’s, they sell smoked salmon parcels filled with cream cheese. I will link them below. Anyway, they are absolutely delicious, and between us we can demolish a packet in about 10 minutes. Seeing as this is a meal based on our favourite things, I wanted to try and recreate them myself. They may not look as neat and pretty, but wow they taste good. 
Ingredients (approx. 12):

150g Smoked Salmon // 150 full fat cream cheese // 1 unwaxed lemon // 10 strands of chives finely chopped  // seasoning // cheesy biscuits to serve

To begin with, lay the smoked salmon out on a board, ready to be filled with the cream cheese. Cut away any really loose ends – and i’m sure you can find a good use for them! In a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, chives, seasoning, lemon zest grated and half the lemon juice. Beat with a fork,  until it is very light and fluffy. Taste, to see if more seasoning or lemon juice is needed. 
Add about a table spoon of the cream cheese filling in the centre of each salmon piece. Roll into long parcels as tightly as possible. Then, using a very sharp knife, cut them up about a cm each. The cream cheese will start to escape, but you can easily just piece them together. 
I always serve with these amazing cheddar thins from Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference, but any type of biscuit or bread is fine 🙂 

Tuna Steak with Spiced Rice and Greens
Tuna steak is something that I am quite new to, however have completed fallen in love with since trying it a few months ago. I love the meaty taste, and how filling it is. My favourite combination with this gorgeous fish has to be rice and greens – however seeing as this meal is meant to be a little special, I wanted to add a few ingredients to the rice to give it a little kick. 
Ingredients (2 people): 

2 Tuna Steaks // 1 cup basalt rice // 2 cups vegetable stock // 1/2 tsp cumin powder // half lime juice //  greens of your choice // seasoning

For this meal I would start preparing the fish, rubbing salt and pepper all over and then covering with olive oil. Tuna steak is something that you are meant to oil, instead of oiling the pan. I then let the fish rest on a plate whilst cooking the other ingredients. 

Add the vegetable stock to a small saucepan, with the cumin and lime juice. Mix together with a small whisk until combined. Leave on a medium heat until bubbling. Also boil the kettle ready to boil your vegetables. Once the rice water is bubbling, add the rice and stir one with a fork. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Add the vegetables to their water. 

About five minutes before the rice is ready (so about half way through cooking), find a medium sized frying pan, and put on a medium heat. Cook the steaks for two minutes on either side only, as they should be pink in the middle. Remove from the heat onto some kitchen roll. Then, drain the vegetables and take the rice off the heat. You know the rice is cooked when all the liquid has been absorbed. Taste to make sure it is. If not just add a little more water. 

Heat the plate, and add the ingredients in whatever order you choose. You may feel the need to season the vegetables if you want a little more taste from them. 

Mini Lemon Pavlova’s
I am a big Nigella fan, and have been completely obsessing over her latest book, Simply Nigella. Inside is a recipe for a large lemon pavlova, and I just wanted to give it a go. I decided initially that I was going to do two smaller ones for this meal, however I have also landed up changing quite a few things and adding a few ingredients. One of these ingredients includes dried raspberry on the top, which definitely gives the pudding a bit more of a romantic feel! 
Ingredients:

3 eggs whites // 160g caster sugar // lemon curd // 1 lemon // 300ml double cream // handful flaked almonds // dried raspberry 

To begin with, you need to make the meringues. I always cook meringues the night before, as I leave them to cool in the oven overnight. This stops them from cracking. 

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Whisk up the egg whites with an electric whisk until soft peaks form. Really, you should be able to hold the bowl upside down without them falling out – and trust me, this can take a lot longer than you expect. Keep checking, as you don’t want to over whisk them. Add the sugar about a heaped teaspoon at a time, and whisk until combined. By the end, the mixture should be very glossy. If you want some extra lemon, you can grate a little zest into the meringue and fold in extremely gently. Prepare a flat baking tray with baking paper, by greasing the tray and putting the paper on top. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the mixture into each of the four corners on the baking tray. Put the meringues into the oven, and immediately turn the heat down to 130 degrees. Leave the meringues to cook for half an hour, and then turn the oven off. Leave them in the oven overnight to cool. 

These only need to be made about two minutes before you eat them. Start by putting some lemon curd in a bowl with a little lemon zest to take away a big of the shop like sweetness. Add about a tablespoon on each meringue, and gently swirl so that it casually drips down the edge. In a small dry frying pan, add the flaked almonds, and toast them until they have browned all over. Empty onto a very cold plate to let them cool. Whisk up the double cream until thick, and add on top of the lemon curd and slightly push it out. Add the almonds in a circle, and put the dried raspberry in the middle. This was meant to be a heart shape, but that just didn’t go to plan. 

I can assure you, once eating all of this.. you will feel that you have had a very special valentines day. 

– have a lovely romantic weekend – 



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